Van Eerde leads the charge to Chang International Circuit

The Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup’s first visit of the season to Sepang International Circuit saw a shift in momentum and a change of leader after two races that seriously swung the pendulum.

Asia Talent Cup Rnd Sepang R Billy VanEerde Podium
Asia Talent Cup Sepang Race Two Results
Billy Van Eerde (AUS)
Sho Nishimura (JPN) +0.012s
Haruki Noguchi (JPN) +0.114s

In the first, former points leader Haruki Noguchi crashed out in mixed conditions as key rival Mario Aji took his first Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup win, and in the second, Billy van Eerde won a stunning three-way fight for victory.

Both went down to the final corner and as the dust settles and the grid prepare to return to battle at Buriram, it’s Australia’s Billy van Eerde at the head of the Championship.

Billy Van Eerde heads to Thailand holding down second place in the Asia Talent Cup standings
Victory in Malaysia promoted Van Eerde into championship lead

Momentum could prove pivotal. Racing alongside MotoGP at Buriram is the first in a stint of three race weekends for the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup that come thick and fast – from Thailand it’s on to Motegi two weeks later, before the season finale sees the grid head back to Sepang at the start of November.

That’s 150 points given out in just over six weeks and whoever has the momentum could be decisive on this final stint towards the crown, with four points covering the top two and thirty the top three.

Asia Talent Cup Rnd Sepang R Billy VanEerde ParcFerme
Billy Van Eerde with dad Brian who swings the spanners, amongst other things..

The grid’s first stop at Buriram in 2018 saw Noguchi do the double. That bodes well in the Japanese rider’s attempts to bounce back from the DNF and a third-place finish in Malaysia, although his key rivals had some form, too.

Van Eerde took two podiums at the Thai track, and Aji was second in Race 1. Will second time round see Noguchi back on top? Or will the others have learned from their first visit and be able to take the fight to the front?

Asia Talent Cup Rnd Sepang R Billy VanEerde Line
2018 Asia Talent Cup – Sepang – Race Two

The Thai contingent could also be a force to be reckoned with as they gain experience and return to home turf. Kopchai Sae-Liw is the leading rider for the home nation in the standings as it stands, on 37 points, and took his best finish of the season last time out at Buriram in Race 2.

Compatriot Tatchakorn Buarsi isn’t far behind either, just rounding out the top ten at the moment on 36 points – and he took his best finish last time out at Sepang as both show good form.

Asia Talent Cup Rnd Sepang R Billy VanEerde Matsuyama
2018 Asia Talent Cup – Sepang – Race Two – Billy Van Eerde gets ahead of Matsuyama

50 points are on the table at Buriram and everything could change again. Tune in as the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup returns from the summer break on the 5th to 7th October at Chang International Circuit in Thailand and we head into the Cup-deciding latter half of the season racing alongside MotoGP.

After Thailand the Asia Talent Cup heads to Motegi on October 21 before the season finale at Sepang on November 4th.

Asia Talent Cup Championship Standings
  1. Billy Van Eerde AUS 115
  2. Haruki Noguchi JPN 111
  3. Mario Aji INA 85
  4. Sho Nishimura JPN 62
  5. Danial Sharil MAL 61
  6. Afridza Munandar INA 48
  7. Toshiki Senda JPN 42
  8. Agung Fachrul INA 38
  9. Kopchai Sae-Liw THA 37
  10. Tatchakorn Buarsi THA 36
  11. Ibrahim Pawi MAL 26
  12. Lucky Hendriansya INA 25
  13. Adenanta Putra INA 24
  14. Warit Thongnoppakun THA 23
  15. Senna Agius AUS 20
  16. Koji Hirama JPN 18
  17. Takuma Matsuyama JPN 18
  18. Shota Kiuchi JPN 15
  19. Troy Alberto PHI 11
  20. Naoki Yamada JPN 10
  21. Nitipong Saengsawang THA 9
  22. Ben Baker AUS 2